Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I hope this isn't too controversial, but....

Cliff and I often have discussions pertaining to the Church, God, and the Bible.

I want my readers to know I am not having a crisis of faith. I love God, Jesus, the Church, and Christians (most of them... I’m only human after all).

But there’s this “tithe” thing.

I was raised in a church that didn’t tell us how much to give. No percentage, no tithe (one-tenth of your income). We believed that tithing was a Jewish law, not necessarily meant for the Church.

Although in Acts, many of the early Christians gave everything they owned, in an almost communistic way. God led those folks to do that, and it's fine. I do believe tithing is a good and worthy goal.

Later in life, I found a Church I loved, that pretty much insisted all members tithe (give 10%).

I never did that, because I still believed what I grew up with, and what I believed the New Testament Church stood for. I believe a Christian should read the Bible for herself, pray, and see what God has to say.

Here’s the problem Cliff has with “tithing”, and I rather agree: When you tithe to a Church, most of that money goes to pay a preacher who drives an expensive car and lives in housing most of the members couldn't afford. It goes to a building program, and it goes to pay utilities on a lavish building. I love good preaching, and I know much of it is done in expensive buildings. Still....

There are millions starving, all over the world. There are orphans and homeless folks. People are dying of cancer and AIDS. What if I’d rather my money went to those causes? Does a loving God care about these? Does He count this? My Bible tells me this: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27

My husband is one of the most giving people I know. He can’t pass a Salvation Army bell-ringer without dropping in a dollar or two. He tips waiters and waitresses because he appreciates the fact that they’re willing to work. He’s helped people when we really didn’t have the funds to do it, because he has a giving heart.

He just wants his money to go where it will do the most good.

I hope I haven’t opened up a can of worms here, but if you’d like to tell me what you think about this subject, go right ahead.


Traci said...

Since I don't have my bible within arms reach, I'll just say that the Bible is clear on what you are supposed to do. That said, I think that most churches do a good job of caring for the community. Some don't. The bottom line is that most churches fall short of what God intended for the church to be.

Sandra said...

our church would like it if we gave in this way.... 5% to church and 5% to charity of our choice... and then bring clothing and food etc for the poor of our parish.... We don't give the full amount but we do give pretty much... now that we have a little more to give with the kids grown

Paula said...

The little historical church we attend but do not belong to mentions building a new church from time to time. The history in this church stands for so much. I can't for the life of me see why they would need a new church when there are only 10 to 15 people there most sundays unless it is a special occasion. I agree there is other ways of giving. John just bought a turkey for a family. Oh I don't know what I'm trying to say here but I think you made an interesting post.

Lisa said...

I loved your entry because I think it's an interesting topic. I am willing to share my thoughts. Yes, I agree with you that every church is a little different on their tithing views & expenses. Some have fancy buildings and big congregations and pay ministers handsomely and others are so small. I've noticed some ministers have to struggle and work another job to make ends meet. You get the idea. I think also it is good for ministers to drive nice cars and have big houses and so non Christians can see that God does prosper His own and takes care of us. I would not want our preacher driving a broken down car and I would not want the House of the Lord to be a mess. I want it to be a place where the glory of the Lord rests upon it and where people will say WOW look at that church!! What's in there? I want to go there and find out what they have! God wants us to give so He will have meat in His house but I think sometimes we get to feeling a little odd thinking that the pastor should drive a not so fancy car or even be poor. What does this show the world? Who wants to be poor? I think God wants to prosper us all beyond what we can even think of. I think only you can know in your heart after praying and talking it over with your husband what is right for you. Many times all I had to put in the plate was a dollar. Other times I've felt God ask me to step out in faith and put in a check for $50.00 or more. I also think once a year we should give a really big offering. I think God sometimes wants us to step out in faith and give even when we can't see how we will meet our other needs but I personally am not all that good with that. (Worry wart me). I think the important thing is to be faithful and do the very best we can. I think it is nice to designate some of our gifts to certain ministries you feel God leading you to give to. I believe God knows when we give to the poor and those in need, like the struggling waitress or the charities we contribute to.
My grandpa had mostly small and medium churches in his days as a preacher and mostly had to work two jobs to make ends meet. They had five kids and were so very poor most of their married lives. Dirt poor. He never was paid a very handsome salary as a preacher and some paid him in chickens. The Lord always met their needs but nothing extravagant. I think the nicest car he ever had was a Buick Skylark. Unfortunately the churches in my opinion did not take care of him very well. My mother only had a few dresses all her life growing up and had to sew much of her clothing. I think mostly when it comes to tithing to give as generously as we can and get ready to reap a blessing in many ways. I believe if we tithe, the work of the enemy is not allowed to come against us to the point where he can ultimately prosper in his attack and ultimately, we get to be blessed in extreme ways. You know the verse I'm thinking of... good measure, shaken together, pressed down and running over...Malachi. I think of the widow's mite a lot and how her gift meant more than the one who gave so much. I often pray for more faith to step out and tithe ten percent. My mom always gave her tithe to her parents, especially after they retired. The churches my grandfather had unfortunately never let him a penny to retire on but $20 a week. I guess what you tithe might then depend also on the circumstances of your church and what you feel God leading you to give and what their needs are and what your giving ability is. I also think we get a reward in heaven for the good we did. If my $1.00 caused someone to get a Bible and get saved... oh what a joy to know it might have somehow done some good somewhere despite how meager it has often been. All I do know is I have never ever given enough and have begged God to send more to me for the purpose of giving it to Him. I hate to come empty handed to the Lord.
Hope this helps.

Lisa said...

PS I am so sorry I wrote a book about tithing in my comment... LOL and I wanted to add that I do not want to leave you with the impression that I think you should be so willing to give generously that you do not consider the situations your dear husband pointed out. I do think he is right... there are some churches out there that we cannot trust that are dead in good works. I do not think all churches are "good" churches and I am sure there are some ministers out there who are taking advantage of tithes and maybe some not spending the tithes properly or maybe even planning big unnecessary projects that the Lord does not want or need. I think it helps if we pray for discernment so the Lord will help us to know if it is a situation where the minister is not really worthy of the post or the salary... or if the deacons or board of the church are making wrong decisions. I went to one church once where every single event cost money... a lot of money. We could not afford to even go to the potluck dinners because there was even a charge for those and the kid's programs were outrageous. It was ridiculous. Needless to say we left that church within 6 months. And one church had the nerve to send deacons out to actually ask my mother and stepfather what they would be tithing each week. My parents were outraged and did not stick with that church for long either.

Lisa said...

PSS LOL I'm back again... I just had another great thought to share. I really like that in the church I go to at present it states in the weekly bulletin for all services exactly what last week's income was for each area, tithes, missions, Sunday School, etc and in the bulletin it also posts some of the general expenses. It helps us to see how we are doing as a church body and if we are giving enough or not enough. I also sometimes like to give a gift directly to the minister unexpectedly in case he needs something. Just a little something above and beyond now and then. And I always feel bad for the little tiny churches where you know they are hardly getting enough to keep the lights and heat on let alone pay the preacher.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I really do tithe but I didn't always. The more I give the more it seems the good Lord takes care of me. I think the important thing is that people realize that the church is them. The people make the church what it is. Working together, supporting each other, praying and worshipping together. 'On Ya'-ma

Adirondackcountrygal said...

I agree with you. I think tithing can come in many forms!

JO said...

The Bible says that the money we make is not our's. all the money belongs to Him and He Ask us to give a tenth. When we do this we get Blessed in so many ways. We have no say so in how the money is spent. But the church has to answar to God for what they did with it and we have to answar why we did not give.God said to give with a cheerful heart.

loopymamain06 said... I grew up going to a church that was very child orientated, and they were very kind to us when my father died and left my mother with three children. I always give at church, my children do too. Hubby and I both try to give in many ways, money, volunteering at the food bank, church, and schoool. I personally am not comfortable in a big, fancy, lush, extravagant church, but my husband is......loopy as always

MoxieMamaKC said...

We do try to tithe, but with a young child, we are hardly able to the whole 10% thing. My hubby, like yours, can't pass a bell ringer without giving something. There are many ways to help out a church. I don't feel really guilty about not being able to give very much there because we both dedicate our time and talent. Those are just as important. I agree with you though about using church funds in the best way.

Lindie said...

I agree with Cliff. I feel if I give from my heart to those I know need it, that God appreciates it. I was truly drawn to Compassion, Inc, I think it is called after reading about it on PW site and am thinking more about that. But I have also given money and food to beggars on our streets. I can't bear to see anyone hungry.

Lori said...

I agree with you! Tithing was a Jewish law and doesn't apply to Christians. We don't tithe where we go. It is up to the family or individual how much to give.

Kathy said...

Donna, I don't think you've opened a can of worms ... yet. LOL

We send a check every month to the church we belong to, but no longer attend. (don't ask) And we send extra during the winter for the heating bill.

I spend a lot of time gathering in season clothing (both at home and from freinds) and donate that to a mission house in a neighboring community, along with household items that can be sold in their thrift store.

We also, like your Cliff, cannot pass a bell ringer or a Toys for Tots collector ... and so, our tithe-ing is some to the church and the rest where we see need.

Leilani Lee said...

Chiming in late here... Look at your church's budget. Can the church get along without your tithe? IF so, then give your tithe to an organization that makes wise use of the money it receives. For a while I was giving part of our tithe directly to support a missionary, a Christian orphanage, some Wycliff bible translators, and to a good TV ministry who was the only church one of my house-bound friends could attend.

Christy said...

We try to follow both Old and New Testament. When we are in the states our "home" church is a nonmilitary church. Our pastor drives a decent, but not fancy truck. They have a nice, but modest home. His wife had to return to work as a JR high math teacher because when they first came to the church, the congregation had fallen down to about 20 (when we were there, on an average Sunday there was 100-150 and about 200 or more on holidays).

The pastor was paid a salary, he did not get tithes, that's for the church and the church's expenses, which is laid out in the monthly budget which any church MEMBER was allowed to see at any given time, all they had to do was come and request. When you become a member you're also shown the church's budget report. It was/is a way that our Pastor felt kept everyone honest and so there was never any false accusations being made about him, his wife, or any of the elders of the church misusing church funds.

I do believe we're instructed to tithe. I think if you're attending a church that you feel is mishandling funding, maybe you should look at why you attend the church and if it's truly the place God has called you to be at. If the pastor and elders can not be trusted with the church money, how in the world can they be trusted in preaching his word and leading?

Carlene Noggle said...


Rose said...

I think you should follow your heart. I am like you I tithe but not 10 percent, but I am very very generous to others. Not just money, but in kindness. Came here via Charlene!


Lippy said...

Hi there,
I think once we give one cent beyond what we're comfortable with, the true meaning of "giving" is lost. Giving comes from the heart, not from a mandate.